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Mount Charleston blue butterfly

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Ultra-rare Nevada Butterfly Gets Federal Protection

Mount Charleston blue butterflyThe Mount Charleston blue butterfly in Nevada is an exquisite, extremely rare species that survives in just a few spots in the Spring Mountains northwest of Las Vegas. In one count a few years ago, just 17 were found. But anyone lucky enough to see it is in for a treat: Less than an inch long, males are a beautiful iridescent blue-gray (females are a more subdued brown-gray). In recent years the butterflies have been threatened by development, fire suppression and fuel-reduction work.

On Wednesday, as part of the Center for Biological Diversity's historic agreement to speed protection decisions for 757 species, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service protected the Mount Charleston blue butterfly under the Endangered Species Act.

So far 108 species have been protected under our agreement; another 61 have been proposed for protection.

"This is great news for one of Nevada's rarest species. The beautiful Mount Charleston blue butterfly is in desperate need of help, and we've got to move quickly," said Rob Mrowka, a Center ecologist based in Nevada.

Read more in the Times Union.

New Report: Nation's 10 Most Vulnerable Amphibians and Reptiles

Mountain yellow-legged frogA new report from the Center for Biological Diversity, hot off the presses yesterday, identifies the nation's least protected, most at-risk 10 amphibians and reptiles -- including a yellow-legged frog from California's high Sierras, a 2-foot-long eastern salamander and a colorful northeastern turtle. Scientists now estimate that 1 in 4 of the nation's amphibians and reptiles are at risk of extinction, yet only 61 "herp" species -- of the approximately 1,400 U.S. species protected under the Endangered Species Act -- have federal protection.

The report, Dying for Protection: The 10 Most Vulnerable, Least Protected Amphibians and Reptiles in the United States, details the population declines and ongoing threats that have left once-common species like the western pond turtle and boreal toad spiraling toward extinction.

"Frogs, turtles and salamanders are some of nature's most delightful and fascinating creatures," said Collette Adkins Giese, a Center lawyer and biologist. "They also help control populations of insects and rodents, and in some cases even provide cures for diseases. We can and should help them avoid an extinction crisis."

Read the report in our press release and check out this video we launched along with it.

Time to Speak Up for Wolf Protections -- Watch Videos

Gray wolf pups from the Wenaha packThe Obama administration is trying to strip federal protections from nearly all wolves in the lower 48 states. But it's not too late to stop this disastrous decision. In the coming weeks, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will hold public hearings on the delisting proposal. We need you there.

The hearings will be held Sept. 30 in Washington, D.C.; Oct. 2 in Sacramento, Calif.; and  Oct. 4 in Albuquerque, N.M. (with this hearing also focused on proposed changes to Mexican wolf reintroduction). If you live near those hearings, we'll let you know how you and your friends can show up and make your voices heard.

In the meantime the Center's wolf organizer Amaroq Weiss has created a video about the importance of wolves and the folly of the nationwide delisting plan -- as well as a how-to video on making your own wolf mask for upcoming rallies.

Check out our wolf delisting video, plus the wolf mask-making vid -- and if you haven't yet, be sure to submit your opposition with us by Oct. 28

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Help on the Way for 2 Southeast Mussels

Neosho mucketThis week brought a great victory for two extremely rare species, the Southeast's freshwater Neosho mucket and rabbitsfoot mussels, which won federal protection Monday through the Center's historic 757 species settlement.

Mussels are the most endangered group of organisms in North America. Before protection these two species were going down for the count, absent from 60 to 65 percent of their historic range, with the decidedly unlucky rabbitsfoot a mere "candidate" for protection since 1994. Worse, the Neosho mucket was a candidate for nearly 30 years. Both species were being pushed toward extinction by water pollution and dams; Neosho muckets were also harvested for their shells, whose iridescent insides were made into pearly buttons.

Not only did these mussels win Endangered Species Act protection -- they also earned a proposed 2,138 miles of rivers and streams as protected "critical habitat," where they'll have a chance to gain back their strength and numbers.

Check out our press release.

Tell Obama, EPA to Uncover Truth About Fracking -- Take Action

FrackingOver the past year, the Obama administration has ordered the EPA to shut down several investigations into how fracking may be contaminating groundwater. This week the Center and allies are calling on the president and EPA to reopen each and every one of those cases. The American people deserve to know exactly what fracking is doing to our water.

Early investigations in Dimock, Penn.; Parker County, Texas; and Pavillion, Wyo. showed that the EPA had evidence linking gas drilling and fracking operations to groundwater contamination. Unfortunately, those investigations were abandoned -- and we never found out what was really going on.

Please, take action today to tell President Obama and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to reopen these investigations and find out what fracking does to our water and environment.

Join Sept. 26 Polar Bear Rally at the White House -- Sign Up

Polar bearAmerica's Arctic is ground zero for climate change: Permafrost is melting, shorelines are washing away, and record-low ice cover is forcing polar bears and other Arctic wildlife into a desperate struggle for survival. Adding insult to injury, Shell and other big oil companies want to drill in the Arctic Ocean.

On Sept. 26 the Center for Biological Diversity, Frostpaw the Polar Bear, an army of other faux polar bears and our allies are rallying outside the White House to tell President Obama to keep drilling out of the Arctic. We need you there with us.

and join us to help deliver this lifesaving message to President Obama.

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Florida Corals to Get Urgently Needed Recovery Plan

Elkhorn coralThe Center persuaded the National Marine Fisheries Service last week to commit to developing a recovery plan for Florida's elkhorn and staghorn corals -- the first species for which we (or anyone) ever won protection against global warming, back in 2006. Our agreement will produce a draft plan by 2014 and promptly finalize it in the following months. Meanwhile the agency has proposed to reclassify the corals from "threatened" to the even more serious category of "endangered" because of their rapid decline.

"A recovery plan and quick action to reduce carbon dioxide pollution are the two missing pieces necessary to save these beautiful corals from extinction," said Jaclyn Lopez, a Florida attorney at the Center.

Elkhorn and staghorn corals have declined by 90 percent since the 1970s; reefs in Florida and the Caribbean were once dominated by these beautiful, branching life forms, but the corals have been badly hurt by bleaching from increasing ocean temperatures, pressures from disease, fishing and pollution, and ocean acidification.

Get more from Law360.

Oceans Acidifying at Fastest Rate in 300 Million Years -- Take Action

Leather sea starAccording to a new study published in the journal Science, the world's seas are becoming more and more acidic at breakneck speed -- the fastest they've done so in likely 300 million years.

What does this mean? The new research looked at corals, shellfish, sea stars and more -- and found that most are highly sensitive to the growing acidity of the oceans. The negative effects on these animals reveal that ocean acidification is going to damage ecosystems and reduce biodiversity.

And it isn't such a surprise: As carbon dioxide is churned into the air, about 22 million tons are absorbed by the oceans every day. This lowers the pH levels of seawater, making it corrosive -- so the protective shells of species like corals, mollusks and some plankton are actually eaten away by the medium they live in. This promises to affect species all over the food web.

Read more in The Washington Post and take action for our oceans now.

Wildlife Conservation Will Be Focus of Expo Next Month

African savannahWildlife experts and conservation allies will gather next month in San Francisco at the Wildlife Conservation Expo. The event on Oct. 12 will feature more than 30 environmental exhibits from around the world -- including one from the Center, an associate of the event.

The expo will feature talks about some of the most exotic places on Earth, from the African savannah to the Colombian rainforests to the Asian steppes. The daylong event, at the Mission Bay Conservation Center, will include 20 of the world's leading conservationists telling their stories of saving endangered species through their work with local communities and the use of groundbreaking conservation techniques.

Learn more on our events page.

Wild & Weird: When Butterflies Drink Turtle Tears

Yellow-spotted river turtleWhat if, every time you cried, a flock of butterflies fluttered around you and kissed away your tears? Well, if you were a turtle living in the western rainforests of the Amazon, they might do just that.

According to LiveScience, the dainty winged insects most likely drink reptile tears in order to absorb sodium, a mineral scarce in the region. It's unclear exactly how this butterfly-reptile relationship works out for the turtle. One scientist has speculated that -- aside from the possibility of becoming more visible to predators like big cats -- being blinded by a flash mob of touchy-feely butterflies probably isn't too bad.

See photos of turtle-tear-drinking butterflies and read more at LiveScience.

Kierán Suckling
Executive Director

Photo credits: Mount Charleston blue butterfly courtesy Flickr/Sky Island; Mount Charleston blue butterfly by Corey Kallstrom, USFWS; mountain yellow-legged frog by Rick Kuyper, USFWS; gray wolf pups from the Wenaha pack courtesy Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife; Neosho mucket courtesy USFWS; fracking rig behind a fence line by Erik Hoffner,; polar bear by David S. Isenberg; elkhorn coral by Caroline Rogers; leather sea star by Jan Haaga; African savannah courtesy Flickr/Julius Hibbert; yellow-spotted river turtle courtesy Flickr/Geoff Gallice.

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